Have you heard that you have to choose between baby led weaning and spoon feeding? This is not true! It is absolutely okay to combine baby led weaning and purees. Let me explain why!
Babies are smart. Some people claim that babies will be confused if given both solids and purees. This does not make any sense. Babies feeding with a baby-led weaning approach are given a variety of foods. They may eat avocado, strawberry, chicken, toast, and eggs all in the same day. These foods all have very different textures! Is that confusing for babies? No! So why would throwing purees in the mix be confusing?
There is so much information out there for parents. It’s great to listen to the experts and get advice about introducing food. But who gets to decide what foods to offer? You! At the end of the day, you get to decide what is right for your baby.
If you think that starting with pureed or mashed foods is best for your baby, then start with purees! Just make sure you move on to more solid foods by 8 months of age. If baby gets too used to only eating one single texture, it can be challenging to move onto something new.
Eating with your hands is very different than eating food from a spoon. Both are important skills! Even as adults, sometimes we may eat handheld foods like burgers, wraps, and sandwiches and other times we may eat cereal or soup from a spoon.
If you choose to do spoon feeding early on, you can still encourage self-feeding! You can dip the spoon in food and set the spoon on the tray to let baby pick it up. The thicker the puree, the more likely it will be to stick to the spoon. Thick mashed potatoes are great, for example! If you want to read more about teaching baby how to use a spoon click here.
The Num Num Pre-Spoon Gootensils are great for getting started!
The best spoons for promoting independence are short, with a chubby handle and a shallow bowl.
I also really like this spoon and fork set by Grabease. They fit really nicely in chubby baby and toddler hands.
For more information about picking the best spoon for your baby, click here!
Benefits of Combining Baby Led Weaning and Spoon Feeding
There are actually quite a few reasons why you may want to combine baby led weaning with spoon feeding.
Exposes Baby to More of a Variety of Textures
Many children become picky as toddlers. A common texture they don’t want to eat is purees. If a baby goes the first several months of eating food without being exposed to a pureed texture, it could possibly increase the chance that they will be more hesitant to eat it in the future.
Early exposure to many food textures is ideal to promote acceptance of a variety of foods in the future. You can only learn to like foods that are offered to you! Even if you primarily offer solid food, throw in some purees a few times a week for baby to try.
It is also common for young toddlers to reject veggies in their natural form. Exposing your child to a broccoli floret or slice of zucchini when they are a baby can help get them used to what real veggies look, feel, and taste like.
Early Introduction of Utensil Use
The sooner you introduce a spoon and fork, the sooner baby can practice their skills with using utensils. Using utensils promotes fine motor skill development and promotes independence.
Using their fingers is important too and also helps develop fine motor skills. A combined approach allows a child to do both!
If you’re open to giving your child both pureed food and food in it’s more natural form, you can offer a wider variety of foods to them! Not all foods are safe to introduce to babies. Leafy greens such as spinach and Swiss chard can be difficult for baby to eat early on and are much easier to eat blended.
You also have flexibility to let baby try what’s on your plate and even order certain foods for them off a restaurant menu. You won’t have to bring pouches or jars with you wherever you go.
The Most Important Factor
The most important thing is that you feel good about what you are feeding your baby. If you feel really scared to do baby-led weaning, maybe it’s better to ease in by starting with purees. If you have a whole family to feed and don’t want to have to take the extra step to blend baby’s meal, maybe a baby-led weaning approach feels like a timesaver.
Is it also okay to help feed your baby? Yes! It’s not easy for all babies to be efficient from the start. I always encourage independence in feeding from the beginning, but there’s no reason why you can’t also help feed your baby. Just make sure you follow baby’s cues and only feed them when they are signaling that they want more.
If a combined approach feels right, go for it! You know your baby best.
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